Best books to buy - or ask for - this Christmas according to Norfolk booksellers

Bookbugs and Dragon Tales, Timberhill, Norwich 

Bookbugs and Dragon Tales, Timberhill, Norwich - Credit: Bookbugs and Dragon Tales

We asked the experts at Norfolk bookshops for their festive page-turner picks.

Each chose a fiction, non-fiction, children's and local interest book. If you want to give books this Christmas – or add to your own wish-list – read on

Tracy Kenny, manager of Kett’s Books, Whartons Court, Wymondham, said:  ”As booksellers we're always really excited for Christmas, because we are able to share such a fabulous selection of books with readers. I'm certain that the publishers save up the best for this time of year, just for putting under the Christmas tree!”

Tracey's picks include:

Fiction 

Exit by Belinda Bauer 

All our team are loving this gentle crime novel with a twist - the older generation aren't solving the crimes, but are living on the shady side of the law - and then finding themselves on the run. It's great thought-provoking fun. 

Most Read

Non-fiction 

Nests by Susan Ogilvy 

Occasionally we get in a book that I just want to hold, and walk around carrying. This is that book, this season. Susan Ogilvy's life-size illustrations of birds' nests are breathtaking and capture something intimate of the lives around us. It will make a lot of people happy. 

Nests by Susan Ogilvy

Nests by Susan Ogilvy - Credit: submitted


Children’s 
The Book of Stolen Dreams by David Farr 
David Farr was scriptwriter for The Night Manager, and the pace and richness of characters comes through on every page of his children's novel. Rachel and Robert are trusted with an important book for safekeeping - and must safeguard the future by stopping evil Charles Malstain getting hold of its magical last page. 

Local interest The Great Thorpe Railway Disaster 1874 by Phyllida Scrivens 

At Christmas local books, books about trains, and recollections of disasters always do well. Local historian Phyllida has got it all in her new book. It's a transport story as well as a slice of Victorian life, as so many people were traveling and involved in the rescue. 

Picked by Holly Ainley, book buyer with Jarrold:

Fiction 

A Haunting at Holkham by Anne Glenconner

A Haunting at Holkham by Anne Glenconner - Credit: supplied

A Haunting at Holkham by Anne Glenconner 

Lady Anne was such an incredible guest when she visited Jarrold in 2019 to celebrate her bestselling memoir, Lady in Waiting. I'm sure readers will lap up her new thriller, A Haunting At Holkham, inspired by her own Norfolk childhood home. 

Non fiction  

The Lyrics: 1956 to the present by Paul McCartney  

A unique concept and despite its £75 price tag, I think this will be on plenty of Christmas lists: two books combined in a bespoke slipcase, this is McCartney's life story, told through 154 of his songs. 

 
Children’s 

The Christmas Department Store by Maudie Powell-Tuck 

This heart-warming story couldn't be more of a perfect fit for Jarrold: a little boy's Christmas is saved when he stumbles on an amazing department store with talking polar bears and magical gifts (we can't promise talking polar bears but we can do the magical gifts in our store!) 

 
Local interest 

Shorelines: Voices of Southwold Fishermen by Robert Jellicoe 
This beautifully produced hardback from local publisher Black Dog Books has been years in the making and intimately revives a lost culture and community. 


Picked by Pam Horrocks, managing director of the Holt Bookshop, Lion House Court, High Street, Holt:


Christmas at Holt Bookshop

Christmas at Holt Bookshop - Credit: Holt Bookshop

Fiction 

Silverview by John Le Carre 

The mesmerising story of an encounter between innocence and experience, public duty and private morals. In his final novel, John le Carre asks what you owe to your country when you no longer recognise it.  

Non-Fiction 

Invention – a Life by James Dyson. 

James Dyson, the inventor and entrepreneur tells his remarkable and inspirational story. A limited number of signed copies are available in the shop.  

Children’s 

At the Height of the Moon, a book of bedtime poetry and art by Alison Baverstock, Matt Cunningham and Annette Roeder 

A beautiful illustrated collection of nocturnally inspired images and writing which introduces children to great art and poetry. Together, the words and pictures will gently inspire children as they drift off to sleep, creating a lasting impression they will hold on to for the rest of their lives. 

Local interest 

Enticing Paths edited by Roger Last

Enticing Paths edited by Roger Last - Credit: Norfolk Gardens Trust

Enticing Paths: A Treasury of Norfolk Gardens and Gardening edited by Roger Last 

Lavishly illustrated with more than 500 pictures, Enticing Paths is a rich tapestry of gardens in the county. From the grand estate to the modest plot, the book encompasses 300 years of Norfolk garden development and change. 

Picked by Sarah Barker of The City Bookshop, Davey Place, Norwich:
 

Fiction 

The Casebook of Sherlock Holmes and his Last Bow by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle 
A classic in the crime writing genre, this book is beautifully presented and will be a wonderful gift for any fans of Doyle's work. There are other titles to collect. 

 
Non-fiction 

Feasting with Bompas and Parr 
A must for anyone who enjoys putting on a feast for family and friends, this is the more flamboyant side of dinner party food creation. 

 
Children’s 

Children's History of Norwich by Peter Kent. 
A fun book for children to read while learning the history of our fine city. 

Children's History of Norwich by Peter Kent

Children's History of Norwich by Peter Kent - Credit: submitted

 
Local interest 

Enticing Paths: A Treasury of Norfolk Gardens and Gardening edited by Roger Last 
This is a lavishly illustrated book looking at 300 years of the history of gardens in Norfolk. Interesting and well researched it is an ideal present for anyone interested in gardening and the history of gardens. 
 
Picked by Annie Rhodes, book buyer with the Norfolk Children’s Book Centre, Church Lane, Alby, near Aylsham: 

 
Fiction  

The False Rose by Jakob Wegelius 

Pure adventure from start to finish, we join Sally Jones on another seafaring, globe-trotting mystery. The Murderer’s Ape is one of our favourite books to hand-sell and we can’t wait to tell our customers there is a sequel! 
 
Non-Fiction 

The Biggest Footprint,  eight billion humans, one clumsy giant, by Rob & Tom Sears 

This fascinating, accessible and funny book uses statistics to present the challenges of climate change in a brand-new light. A completely original concept and beautifully illustrated too. 
 
Pre-School 

You Can! by Alexandra Strick 
A wholly positive and inclusive picture book that follows a group of children as they grow up. With delightful illustrations by Steve Antony. 
 
Primary 

Arthur the Always King by Kevin Crossley-Holland & Chris Riddell 

Arthur the Always King by Kevin Crossley-Holland & Chris Riddell - Credit: supplied

Arthur the Always King by Kevin Crossley-Holland and Chris Riddell 
A gorgeously illustrated retelling of the legends of King Arthur by local master storyteller Kevin Crossley-Holland. This is a special gift book that will you will want to keep to treasure for yourself! 

Picked by Leanne Fridd of Bookbugs and Dragon Tales, Timberhill, Norwich:

Picture book 

Robin, Robin by Dan Ojari and Mikey Please 

From the creators Aardman Animation this hardback picture storybook is the perfect accompaniment to the newly released Netflix film of the same name, telling the story of Robin as she tries to fit in with her mouse family and learns that being true to herself is the most important thing! 

Fiction for children aged three to seven 

Christmas Street by Jonathan Emmett 

 This is a beautiful alphabet, lift-the-flap concertina book that folds out into a play scene. The illustrations are lovely and have so many hidden images to find, along with a rhyming structure. This is a sure-fire hit this Christmas. 

Fiction for children 10-plus  

The Miracle on Ebenezer Street by Catherine Doyle 

This is a wonderful re-telling of A Christmas Carol with humour and adventure set in the 21st Century. Featuring an enthusiastic elf, a grumpy reindeer and a mischievous Nan, this book is bound to bring you joy this Christmas 

Non fiction 

A Day In The Life of a Caveman, A Queen and Everything In Between by Mike Barfield and Jess Bradley 

Not a Christmas book but a perfect gift for the young historians in your life. Set out in a comic book style, this is jam-packed with fascinating historical facts and answers questions such as ‘How did a woolly mammoth pass the time?’ and ‘What was life like for a cat in ancient Egypt’? 

Bookbugs and Dragon Tales, Timberhill, Norwich 

Bookbugs and Dragon Tales, Timberhill, Norwich - Credit: Bookbugs and Dragon Tales

Picked by Henry Layte of the Book Hive, London Street, Norwich:

Fiction 

Playtime's Over by James Kinsley 

This debut novella from a Norwich writer is a funny and poignant look at a man's view of the world in the limbo between life and death after he has taken his own life. A serious subject but a beautifully written, uplifting call for hope in dark places. 

 
Non fiction 

Sea-Change by Jessica Streeting 

This is a memoir of family love and tragedy which takes the form of an epic poem. Jessica Streeting revisits her 1970's Norfolk childhood in a glorious evocation of a past life, with an introduction by Stephen Fry who witnessed the events described. 

Children 

Feast Your Eyes on Food by Laura Gladwin and Zoe Barker 

What makes this special is the artwork by local illustrator Zoe Barker. A comprehensive encyclopaedia/glossary of all food types and ingredients it is stunning and so visually powerful. 

Local interest 

Apparitions of East Anglia by Chris Spalton

Apparitions of East Anglia by Chris Spalton - Credit: Contributed

Apparitions of East Anglia by Chris Spalton 

Following on from his excellent Eel-man, local designer Chris Spalton has created a wonderfully bizarre graphic retelling of the myths, folklore and legends of this part of the world.  

Picked by Jane James of Not Just Books in Thetford. notjustbooks.co.uk:

Fiction 

Lily by Rose Tremain 

Norfolk author Rose Tremain’s latest novel is a gripping Victorian melodrama about an orphan girl and a vengeful murder. Set in Suffolk and London follows the foundling’s life journey and the secret she keeps. 1 

Non-fiction 

Connections with Nature

Connections with Nature - Credit: submitted

Connections With Nature: 50 moments of meeting the wild, compiled and edited by Kate Stephenson 

Kate Stephenson is a journalist, blogger and wildlife campaigner and we’re rather fond of her here at Not Just Books as she’s from Thetford. The anthology of 50 memorable moments with nature draws on contributions from the Wildlife Blogger Crowd she founded. They remind us of the wonders of the natural world, the benefits of making connections with wildlife and wild spaces, and highlight how our lives are often a lot more entwined with ‘the wild’ than we might realise. 

Children’s 

An A-Z of Extraordinary Extinct Creatures by Jill Michelle Smith and Jennifer Watson 

Dereham based mother and daughter Jill and Jennifer bring to life 26 extraordinary extinct dinosaurs, birds, reptiles, and mammals, with their vibrant illustrations and amusing rhymes. It’s perfectly designed to inspire young readers’ curiosity in natural history 

Local interest 

Tell Me About the Farm Grandad, A 1960s Norfolk Childhood by Janet Collingsworth 

Janet’s memoir is based on her memories of growing up in 1960s Norfolk and compares life in a village with that of the suburbs and the city. Enjoy the happy times spent with grandparents in Corpusty exploring the village and learning about the natural world.